Jul 10 2011

Sideloading Android Apps for Dummies Part 1

Sideloading is the process of getting an application into an Android phone outside of the normal, Android Marketplace means. If an app does not show up on the Marketplace, what are you to do?

This may happen for a number of reasons including the app not being approved by Google or not being functional on your phone or device. Sometimes not being able to install an app is a very good thing!

However,the main reason that I have had for not getting access to an app has been it not being tagged correctly in the Market for my HTC View tablet. The View runs the phone operating system (2.3 or Gingerbread) not the tablet OS (3.0 or Honeycomb) and this has caused me some challenges on installing apps that I really wanted to run…notably Google Voice to manage voicemails and texts from my tablet. Yes, I could manage it from the mobile website but that means no notifications.

The simplest way to get access to an app you cannot download is to have access to it on another Android device. I just happen to have an EVO4G that Google Voice is working brilliantly on, so it will be my launching point. If you have a friend or compatriot that has an Android device they can do this for you as well.

Astro File Manager is a free, ad supported file manager that adds some great functionality to any Android phone but its backup feature is the function we are going to key upon for this.

Once it is installed, launch Astro and hit the menu button on your phone. Select tools and the top option will be “Application Manager/Backup” from the menu.

You will get a list of all installed applications. Put a check in the box to the right of the app you want to move to another platform and press the backup button at the top of the window. This will create an APK file of the program on your SD card that you can use to install the application on a different device.

You have several options to move this device onto your phone but the easiest may be to actually email it, particularly if you have a Gmail account. To do so you can again use Astro and navigate to the place where it stores backups of apps (sdcard/backups/apps by default) and click and hold on the backup of the app you have created. It will pop open a menu you and you can select “send”, choose a service like Mail or Gmail and enter an email address.

If you do send it to yourself at a Gmail address you will have an install button on the email when the APK file arrives and it will install automatically.

If not, you will need to use an APK installer like Easy Installer to launch the APK for the app after you save it off to your SD card. It will generally find the APK files automatically. Just check the box and click the “Install selected apps” button at the bottom of the screen.

So, a couple of steps and as you can see below from the installed widgets, Google Voice is up and running on my “Unsupported” HTC View!

This is far and away the simplest form of sideloading and I will get into some of the more complex paths in the part 2 article of this series.

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